World Bank approves USD 350 million loan to Gujarat for better health services

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The World Bank has approved a loan of USD 350 million or more Loan of 2,832 crore to Gujarat to increase health services with special focus on adolescent girls and disease surveillance in the state. The executive board has approved the loan, the multilateral funding agency said, as quoted by PTI.

The agency informed that the funding will come from the branch of the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), bearing a maturity of 18 years including a grace period of 5.5 years.

According to the World Bank, the loan proceeds will be used under the state government’s SRESTHA-G (Systems Reform Endeavors For Transformed Health Achievement In Gujarat) program, which will enable more people to access a wider range of high quality health services.

Currently, Gujarat provides seven health services to its citizens including reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

However, the World Bank funding will now help the state expand these services which will also include mental health and palliative health services to strengthen non-communicable services in the state, according to PTI reports.

Auguste Tano Kouame, World Bank Country Director for India, said the program will improve access to traditional health services for all citizens while supporting the state’s efforts to open up access to new services, thereby contributing to improved health outcomes for Gujarati.

So far, Gujarat has achieved steady improvements in various key health indicators including reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. But challenges remain as 69% of adolescent girls and 36% of adolescent boys suffer from anemia, the bank said, adding that 10% of rural residents and 5% of urban residents in the state have mental health issues.

He further said that SRESTHA-G will have a particular focus on improving the health and nutrition of adolescent girls and boys, with priority given to 14 districts where more than 70% of adolescent girls are anemic.

In addition to this, it will also support a population-based screening process with the assistance of Accredited Local Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs).

(With PTI inputs)

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